Ceng Beng, Hari Raya

A traditional Chinese festival, which isheld atthe end of December, and is a tang ce holiday. On this day, the Chinese people eat ronde cakes. The word Ceng Beng is derived fromthe words ceng (bright) and beng (clean), becauseit takes place in the spring in China, which is thebest time to visit the thiong(cemetery). While carrying hio(incense sticks for prayers), the Chinese nyekar (visit) the bong (graves) commemorating their ancestors who have died.

Three days before the ceng beng festival, the grave iscleaned. Grass and weeds are trimmed; gravestones and buildings surrounding it are scrubbed clean with soap and water. Presently, because many Chinese graveyards have beendisplaced, they go to places housing the ashes of their deceased, one of which is the crematorium in Pantai Dadap (at the Jakarta-Tangerang border) and Cilincing. However, there are still some who visit the Chinese cemeteries that still remain, such as ones in Karawaci (Tangerang), Kebon Nanas (East Jakarta), Petamburan (Central Jakarta), and Bogor.

Duringtheir visit, the Chinese bringfoodsuch as ketupat and lepet which havebeen prepared two days before. The day before the cengbeng festival is a fire-free day. Fire is not allowed to be lit in the home for a full day. This tradition is related to the historical events that happened in their ancestral landof China. It is said at that time there was a prince who was forced to leave the palace because he was vilified. During the long exile and wandering, among hisfollowers was a person of authority who was very faithful. He was soloyal to the prince that he even cut a piece of flesh from his thigh to be eaten bythe prince. Unfortunately, when the prince returned to his throne as king, he forgot about Kai Cu Tai, his loyal follower. When the king finally remembered, he assembled his men to look for him. When he was unsuccessful, he ordered to burn the forest down so thathis loyal followerwould comeout. Tragically, the person he was seeking was found in a burnedstate, hugging his elderlymother. The grievingking finally ordered the people not to start a fire the day before the ceng beng, marking a timeof mourning. As a result, ceng beng is also called a festival where cold dishes are served.

According to their beliefs, the act of visitingancestral graves on the day of ceng beng is a form of filial piety towards parents and ancestors. According to Confucian teachings, devotion should beshown during one’s life and after death, because it is considered to be the most important virtue. It is not limited to the generation who arestill living but also ancestors who had died.Devoted children (hua)-according to them-is loved and blessedby thian(God). Whilerebellious children (puthau), are considered to be damnedfor forgetting the services of the elderly.